If you work on cars even semireg­u­larly, a de­cent-qual­ity trol­ley jack is es­sen­tial – but it needn’t break the bank. Rob Mar­shall says that a bud­get of around £100 should yield a worth­while can­di­date.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Project Mercedes-benz E320 Cdi -

Not only have cars be­come big­ger, they are also heav­ier and taller. The num­ber of 4x4, MPVS, SUVS, Crossovers and the like have meant that the on­ce­pop­u­lar £50 one-tonne af­ter­mar­ket trol­ley jack is nei­ther the most prac­ti­cal, nor the safest op­tion for re­li­able DIY lift­ing. Fur­ther­more, a more sub­stan­tial trol­ley jack is likely to last longer and rep­re­sent bet­ter value for money.

Sur­pris­ingly, semi-pro­fes­sional jacks, with a rated 2.5-3.0 tonne max­i­mum ca­pac­ity, are avail­able for around £100. But even within this price range, not all of them are born equal and there are many op­tions, de­pend­ing on your needs.

The test pro­ce­dure

With a choice of sizes, spec­i­fi­ca­tions and hy­draulic types, we as­sessed each prod­uct that was sub­mit­ted to us by its re­tailer for build qual­ity, cost, ease of use, fea­tures and use­ful lift­ing height. As vir­tu­ally all of the jacks un­der test had the same max­i­mum weight ca­pac­ity, we con­sid­ered also the sad­dle size. This is rel­e­vant, be­cause the smaller the lift­ing head, the more likely dam­age is to be in­flicted on the ve­hi­cle, es­pe­cially if you use jack­ing points on the sills to sup­port the weight. We also in­ves­ti­gated whether any pro­tec­tive rubber pads were sup­plied as stan­dard equip­ment. A quick-lift fa­cil­ity is also ben­e­fi­cial, to re­duce the an­noy­ing need to pump the jack han­dle re­peat­edly to raise the sad­dle to the ap­pro­pri­ate height. We also as­sessed the quick-lift’s abil­ity to per­mit ac­cu­rate po­si­tion­ing with­out drop­ping, which saves time. The jacks were all eval­u­ated for their ease of ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity on a flat, con­crete floor, as well as their sta­bil­ity un­der load, which is a crit­i­cal safety con­sid­er­a­tion.

All of the jack man­u­fac­tur­ers in­sisted that their prod­ucts were for lift­ing purposes only and ad­vised strongly that a ve­hi­cle’s weight must also be sup­ported by axle stands be­fore you ven­ture be­neath it – advice that we echo.

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